My great friend Jim Martin posted this in his weekly email encouragement to a bunch of us ministers who rely on him for regular shots of wisdom and strength. I’m re-posting it here word for word.
I was getting ready to officiate at a wedding in Central Texas. Preparing for this event caused me to think about marriage in general and my own marriage in particular. Beyond this, I had already been thinking about some of the fragile relationships within congregations and the relational challenges we have faced over the last year.
Some of these challenges have resulted in the fragmentation of relationships within congregations. Church members argued about the pandemic, wearing masks, getting vaccinated, the presidential election, racial issues, etc. For many, this has been quite painful.
Yet, as we look to the future of our congregations, it is important that we recommit to one another by loving with a rugged commitment. By “rugged commitment,” I mean a love that is willing to do what is hard and messy. This is a love for another that is much like the steadfast love of the Lord toward his children. This is a love that is willing to go the distance for another.
Can we love each other with a rugged commitment so that we forebear one another in love, even when we strongly disagree?
Can we love each other with a rugged commitment so that we seek to lighten the load of church leaders instead of making life so difficult for them?
Can we love each other with a rugged commitment so that we put our identity in Jesus above any other identity?
This rugged commitment is necessary for a lasting friendship, for a growing marriage, and for any congregation that wishes to stay together, in spite of the pressures that threaten to rip it apart.
Our outdoor movie night set for tomorrow at Bivins Elementary has been moved because of all the rain – more than five inches in the past seven days and more on the way. Our Children’s Minister described the field at the school today as “swampy.” It looks like a playa lake. The event has been moved now to our west parking lot here at Central. We’re inviting the entire Bivins Elementary community and our whole church family to park on the south side, bring your lawn chairs and blankets, and enjoy Disney’s Moana at 630pm. We’ll be passing out the candy and popcorn and hoping that whatever is forecast for Friday night misses us.
Lesson learned: If we ever want rain in Amarillo, we need only to schedule an outdoor church event.